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Haters. Trolls. Hurtful comments. People who you know but clearly don’t know you. Disrespect. Intended harm. Rudeness.
We live in a social media world. People sit with their phones in hand 24/7. Able to scroll and comment on anything in an instant. It’s easy to have more courage, be more brave and bold, speak out, speak loudly, speak hurtfully. Someone posts an opinion you don’t agree with? In an instant you can blast them with your thoughts, proof that you’re “right” and their “wrong.”
Much like we look at celebrities and the paparazzi and say “well you signed up for it, deal with it.” We tend to look at people with active social media accounts the same way. You share it, you deal with the negativity coming your way.
But guys, it doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t make it acceptable to be rude and ugly. Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Just because every other comment you see on some thread is rude or hateful doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to join in. Be different. Stand out. Be a light.
I think we’ve all had moments of regret when it comes to comments we may have made. Social media has changed a LOT over the years and I know I look back at some of my old Facebook posts or comments and cringe. We grow and change and mature. Just as easy as it is to spew hate online, it’s equally easy to send a quick private message to apologize to someone you may have offended. It’s easy to hit “edit” or just delete the post or comment altogether.
But how do you respond when you’re the one receiving the unkind words? The hurtful comments? From a stranger, or worse, from someone you do know personally?
Unfortunately I’ve had a good bit of personal experience with this issue. And I’ve learned that sometimes the best response is no response at all. Silence. No snarky comeback, no defending yourself, no rudeness. Just silence. (Proverbs 17:27-28)
Silence when you read a post you are itching to reply to with your own input
Silence when you see a view opposing yours
Silence when you are offended
Silence when you are hurt
I love me a good Disney reference and we all know the famous line from Bambi “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” This needs to be applied to all areas of life…not just words spoken but also those written.
When someone hurts you, it’s hard to not respond. It’s difficult to walk away from the screen and take a breather. It’s hard when the rest of your day you spend thinking over the comment and what you WANT to say in response but then not actually allowing yourself to respond.
So often when people are offensive or hurtful we take it very personally. And yes, it IS personal. Attacks on our social media are attacks on us, right? Not always. Sometimes it’s just another person who doesn’t agree with our view. It doesn’t mean they don’t like us or care about us, they may just be passionate about their stance on an issue (and unable to practice the tool of self control and not able to just stay silent). Sometimes it is truly personal. And when it is, I have to remind myself of Jesus on the cross.
Jesus was up on the cross. People were shouting for him to be killed. He was Jesus. He was GOD. He could have had a million different responses. He could have literally destroyed the entire world, all the people who were causing him such physical pain. Instead do you know what he did? He asked God to forgive them. He said “they know not what they do.” (Luke 22:34)
And MOST of the time those people who are hurting us? They also do not know what they are doing. Maybe they are intentionally being ugly and mean, maybe not. Maybe they are misguided in their sources for their opinions. Maybe they only have one side of a story. Maybe they are hurting or experiencing something difficult in their lives. Maybe they are just tired and cranky and unable to control the urge to vent.
There are no excuses for being rude or mean. But it makes it SO much easier to stay silent and to forgive such actions when you try to focus on the lack of understanding that person has on whatever the situation may be.
If you know the offender personally, then go to them. The Bible instructs us to go to a brother or sister in Christ and work things out together (Matthew 18:15-17). But so often in the world of social media we DON’T know the offender personally. Or we live so far from each other that it’d be impossible to meet face to face. Sometimes there are things worth messaging someone privately about, but usually I just try hard to forgive them without being given an apology and to practice my self-control and my ability to remain silent.
Someday such offenders will look back and see that they were hurtful. And sometimes being an example to others is simply ignoring them. Engaging with someone in their moment of spiritual weakness will only potentially lead to your own stumbling. So let it ride. Walk away. Put down the phone and take a breather.
And remember that you are more than your social media profile. You are more than articles you share or opinions you have. Not everyone gets to see every side of you, or your family and that’s okay. Keep having faith and walking in light and your goodness won’t go unnoticed. Just as you may have some “haters” you are probably also encouraging more people than you know! Don’t let a couple rude people stop you from being an example for Christ to others!
My favorite thing about social media is that it’s a great tool for encouragement to others. I’m an “over-liker.” I “like” just about everything I see because I know it brings the person posting joy to see that. I try to comment on cute pictures of kids, or when a mama is lookin’ good, or when someone is down and needs some kind words. YES. Social media is filled with haters, but where there is darkness is where light can easily shine even brighter. Don’t let the haters bring you down, continue to encourage each other and lift each other up!